Talent jam —that’s the only way to describe the scene at the opening of the 69th Cannes Film Festival. There were so many fabulous names on the red carpet that I lost track of who was coming and going and who was giving the double-sided French cheek kiss to whom.
At one point, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon (in a black suit and flats no less) were posing with Thierry Fremaux (festival head, official title: General Delegate) on the top of the stairs of the famed Palais des Festivals.
Meanwhile Victoria Beckham’s name was announced. Media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and Justin Timberlake posed for pictures. Then the incredible jury entered led by jury president George Miller and including Kirsten Dunst, Donald Sutherland and director Laszlo Nemes whose searing debut Son of Saul, won the Oscar a few months ago.
And finally, the red carpet action worked up to a crescendo when the talent on the opening film Café Society arrived – none other than Woody Allen with his stars – Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg.
This is what makes the Cannes Film Festival unparalleled – it’s a heady mix of the greatest cinema talents in the world, the most staggeringly stylish red carpet and a buzzing commercial market. Even as film critics are poring over the painstakingly curated films that are being presented in official competition , sales agents, producers and distributors are frantically meeting and cutting deals. But what really fascinates me is the style quotient – Cannes is arguably the most glamorous film festival in the world.
Even the damp weather and the beefed-up, post-Paris attacks security can’t cloud the festival’s inherent panache. Of course the stars dress to kill but so does almost everyone else. Every evening, you can see women in gowns and men in tuxedos on the street – some of them with signs begging for tickets to get into the evening screenings. Cannes is an invitation-only festival. These good folks dress up in the hope of snagging a ticket. There are also at least half a dozen drop-dead gorgeous women sauntering around – perhaps in the hope of being noticed.
Among those seeking attention from the 3000-odd journalists was our very own Mallika Sherawat. She is in Cannes to promote her new Chinese film Time Raiders. Mallika is a festival regular. One year, she promoted a film called Hiss by posing with a snake. During our interview she made me touch it.
Snakes do seem to have their moment at Cannes. For me, the highlight of the red carpet was Julianne Moore’s ‘Nagin’ gown, which featured glittering cobra designs! I can’t wait to see what films and fashions are unveiled over the next 10 days.